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Personal injury protection and its effect on auto insurance coverage

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Personal injury protection, or PIP, is an auto insurance coverage that can help pay for medical expenses, lost wages and household responsibilities for you and your passengers from a covered accident, regardless of fault. It’s mandatory in no-fault states and optional in others. While it may be optional coverage where you live, there are a variety of reasons you might consider adding it to your policy. If you are required to carry PIP insurance, it is helpful to understand the full scope of coverage you select.

What is PIP insurance?

Almost all states require drivers to carry car insurance coverage that helps cover medical and vehicle expenses for the other driver if you are at fault in an accident. These coverage types are bodily injury and property damage liability. However, liability coverage would not cover medical expenses for you or your passengers in an at-fault accident, nor would it repair your vehicle. For your and your passengers’ injuries, you would need either PIP or medical payments coverage, depending on your state. However, PIP can offer more robust coverage, above and beyond covering only medical costs. It may also help cover essential services and lost wages.

For example, if you are injured in a covered accident and cannot clean your house due to the injuries you sustained from the incident, PIP could help cover for someone to help clean your house on your behalf. This part of PIP coverage falls under essential services coverage. Or, if you are unable to work because of that same covered accident, PIP might cover a portion of your lost wages. Even in states where PIP is an available coverage, PIP coverage limits and options vary, so it is important to understand how your PIP insurance works.

PIP can also provide these coverages regardless of who was at fault in an accident. If you were hit by another driver and sustained the injuries mentioned above, your PIP could still help cover your expenses. But, as much financial protection as PIP can provide, there are limitations. PIP does not cover expenses for damage to your vehicle or the other vehicle. If you have damage to your vehicle, your collision coverage helps cover expenses related to repair or replacement. It also does not cover theft, glass breakage or other vehicle damage, which might be covered under your comprehensive coverage.

Which states require PIP?

Some states are considered no-fault, meaning that each driver must pay for their own expenses after an accident. PIP insurance is designed to cover medical expenses and lost wages for yourself and your passengers. Therefore, no-fault states typically require drivers to carry PIP coverage.

However, some states may allow you to opt-out if you can prove you have medical coverage, such as Medicare or private health insurance. You will likely have to opt-out in writing.

Required PIP coverage Optional PIP coverage
Delaware Arkansas
Florida Maryland
Hawaii Texas
Kansas Washington
Kentucky Washington, D.C.
Massachusetts
Michigan
Minnesota
New Jersey
New York
North Dakota
Oregon
Pennsylvania
Utah

Do I need personal injury protection?

If your state is a no-fault state and requires PIP coverage, you will have to include it on your car insurance policy. But even if it is optional, it may be a good idea to consider it.

For example, if you do not have a very robust or comprehensive health insurance policy, personal injury protection coverage can work with your health insurance to provide more comprehensive coverage that will likely cover your injuries from an accident.

PIP may also be worth considering if passengers are often in your car. Since you cannot be sure what kind of health insurance your passengers have, PIP may provide a layer of assurance their medical bills will be covered in an accident, up to your policy’s limits.

Frequently asked questions

Written by
Sara Coleman
Former Insurance Contributor
Sara Coleman is a former insurance contributor at Bankrate. She has a couple of years of experience in writing for insurance domains such as The Simple Dollar, Reviews.com, Coverage.com and numerous other personal finance sites. She writes about insurance products such as auto, homeowners, renters and disability.
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